Leaving aside the contentious political debate, tearing Frank Clair down or making radical change* might help the Gaels win in Ottawa for a change. It's all about us, you know. Meantime, the south side stands being closed means the teams don't have use of the regular dressing rooms, which probably adds to the Gee-Gees' home field advantage.
Out west, UBC and Simon Fraser call their annual showdown the Shrum Bowl. Queen's-Ottawa, when it's in the Gee-Gees' backyard, is the Shrug Bowl.
It's a mystery to some obsessive types (OK, this obsessive type) why the Gaels seldom win there, no matter what the records of the teams are entering the game. Of course, by the law averages, wouldn't that mean the HMCS Tricolour is set to sail to an upset victory on Saturday (2 p.m., cfrc.ca) vs. the unbeaten, No. 2-ranked Gee-Gees?
Coach Pat Sheahan needs no reminder the Gaels are 1-4 in Ottawa during his tenure, but at least he's had company. Bob Howes' teams won only beat the Gee-Gees on the road once in five seasons, in 1997, and of course, lost the Dunsmore Cup in '95, tellingly enough, in Ottawa, after having a last-minute go-ahead touchdown nullified by a penalty. From 1990 to '92, when the Doug Hargreaves-guided Gaels were a top team in the old O-QIFC, they beat a bad Ottawa team in Kingston by a combined 117-15, but lost two of the three road games. Figure that out.
Who knows why? The Gee-Gees are usually a tough, fast team on the artificial surface at Frank Clair and they usually are a tough, fast team, so that is a big part of it from the serious chauvinist. But the inner Kingston cheerleader who considers it, albeit from afar, Xanadu on Lake Ontario, won't stop believing it's some kind of cosmic retribution for Sarah Harmer and The Tragically Hip rocking 10 times harder than Ottawa's Paul Anka and Alanis Morrissette.
True, Bryan Adams, was born in Kingston. However, that was an accident of birth. The epitome of wuss rock lived in Ottawa for quite of bit of his formative years, which can't be a coincidence.
(Yeah, slagging Bryan Adams. That wasn't even edgy when he was popular.)
As for the game:
- How much do the Gee-Gees miss offensive lineman Kyle Kirkwood, whose season ended with an injury at a CFL training camp? Ottawa's gone from having the fifth-best yards-per-carry in the CIS last season (5.96) to 15th (4.70), despite having played Toronto and York in the first five weeks. The Gaels can run the ball and stop the run on Saturday, based on what they did vs. Laurier. The bulkier Mike Giffin of old did have some moments vs. a statistically stronger Ottawa defence in both games last season.
- The fingers and toes are crossed but Ottawa's just got so much more passing offence than the Gaels. Close games often hinge on who has the steadier QB and more reliable kicker; Josh Sacobie and record-setting Ara Tchobanian are a little older and wiser than Gaels QB Dan Brannagan and rookie kicker Dan Village.
The words "Josh Sacobie" and "Hec Crighton Trophy" are starting to appear side-by-side a lot. He's one three front-runners in the view of The CIS Blog. (How's that for cross-promotion? Eat your heart out, Ted Rogers.) If a player's entire career arc should matter most, Sacobie's a fabulous pick, but if itn comes down to what passer or runner matters most to his team's success, Bishop's Jamall Lee might have the edge.
- The hope here is that the Gaels' offence shows something after last week and gives the No. 2 Gee-Gees a decent game. Off the top of the head, Ottawa probably squeezes this out by about a touchdown, but all we ask is for the Gaels to have a puncher's chance.
Shameless plug: I'll be a panelist Friday at 4 p.m. on CFRC 101.9 FM/cfrc.ca's sports show Offsides, co-hosted by Tyler King and Brendan McNamara.That's all for now. Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.